“The final straw came on August 5, 1974. The Supreme Court had ruled that the White House must turn over all the tapes to Leon Jaworski, the new Watergate special prosecutor and a friend of Dad’s from Houston. The tapes revealed that Nixon had spoken to one of his aides about thwarting the FBI’s investigation into the Watergate break-in. That was proof that he knew about the cover-up and that he had lied to the country. The revelation shattered Dad’s trust in Nixon.
“The day after the smoking-gun tape became public, Nixon held a meeting with his Cabinet and key political advisers. Dad attended the meeting and witnessed a surreal scene in which the President spent the meeting talking about the economy and other policy issues rather than confronting the only question that really mattered. Later that day, Dad gave Nixon’s Chief of Staff, Alexander Haig, a candid assessment. After speaking to some of his old friends in Congress, he had learned that the President would not have the votes to survive an impeachment proceeding.
“Despite his deep disappointment, my father refused to condemn Nixon publicly. While he might have benefited in the short run, Dad saw little point in “piling on,” as he put it. He voiced his opinion privately in a letter to the President on August 7. As far as I know, he is the only party Chairman in American history who has ever written such a letter.
“‘I now firmly feel that resignation is best for this country, best for this President,’ he wrote. ‘I believe this view is held by most Republican leaders across the country.’ Writing with his characteristic sympathy, Dad continued, ‘This letter is made much more difficult because of the gratitude I will always have for you. If you do leave office, history will properly record your achievements with a lasting respect.’ The next day, President Nixon announced that he would resign.”